Leeds rugby league club to share ground with new union side coached by ex-France & All Blacks boss

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A Leeds rugby league club will share their stadium with a newly-formed rugby union side whose coach has worked at the top level with France and the All Blacks.

Betfred League One outfit Hunslet RLFC are teaming up with Hunslet Wolves who will compete in the 15-a-side code’s 2024-25 Yorkshire Merit League. Wolves’ team boss is Dave Ellis, a former Castleford Tigers, Keighley, Doncaster and Batley rugby league player who spent 11 years on France’s coaching staff and helped mastermind New Zealand’s 3-0 Test series whitewash of the British and Irish Lions in 2005.

The rugby league side are already working with South Leeds FC - formerly known as Middleton FC - as they prepare for their first season in Northern Counties East League Division One. Hunslet chief executive Neil Hampshire said: “As prime tenants at South Leeds Stadium, we see the value in other sem- professional teams playing at the stadium.

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“We believe that not only gives us more opportunity to grow our own fanbase, but also to help drive additional investment into the facility. While there is a long history of turmoil and animosity between rugby league and rugby union in the past, that is definitely not the case here. We have been fully involved in discussions to create the Wolves from day one and are looking forward to developing a rugby hub in South Leeds.”

South Leeds Stadium will be shared by Hunslet RLFC and the new Hunslet Wolves rugby union franchise. Picture by Hunslet RLFC.South Leeds Stadium will be shared by Hunslet RLFC and the new Hunslet Wolves rugby union franchise. Picture by Hunslet RLFC.
South Leeds Stadium will be shared by Hunslet RLFC and the new Hunslet Wolves rugby union franchise. Picture by Hunslet RLFC.
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The clubs are already considering sharing players. The Wolves franchise will be led by French-American tech entrepreneur Dom Einhorn and is set to include a women’s team coached by former Northampton, Wasps, Bath, and Yorkshire Carnegie forward Charlie Beech.

Hampshire stated: “I think these are exciting times for South Leeds and having the stadium utilised for rugby league, rugby union, football and athletics will make it a key sporting hub in the city. The Wolves’ ambitions match our own and working in collaboration can only help both clubs achieve them.”

In a statement released by Hunslet, Ellis said: “I’d like to thank Hunslet for the way they have both supported and welcomed this opportunity. I want to see both clubs thrive and make South Leeds a real stronghold for both rugby codes. I can’t wait to get started.”

Einhorn added: “I personally look forward to contributing to the vibrant Hunslet community by helping to build a rugby franchise from the ground up, with a team of highly capable professionals.”

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